The Complete Guide to Summer Jobs for College Students
Many college students make the mistake of applying for summer jobs last minute or skipping finding a summer job altogether. As a college student or recent grad, taking on a summer job provides invaluable experience and benefits.
In the world of summer jobs, the early bird gets the worm. The earlier you apply, the more options you have to choose from and apply for. And taking a summer job is a good look on your resume PLUS the extra pocket money is always nice.
In this guide, we will walk you step-by-step on how to land your next summer job.
The Benefits of a Summer Job
Let’s first understand the value of a summer job beyond the $$$ (as important and awesome as that is). Getting a summer job has more important benefits to think about. So, before you even ask, “Why should I take a summer job?”, consider how you can:
- Gain invaluable skills.
- Learn about your likes and dislikes.
- Make new friendships.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
- Boost your resume.
- Earn money $$$.
Understand the WHY: Why Do You Want a Summer Job?
Of course, every person has a different motivation to find a summer job. More importantly, you should take some to think about what you’re looking for in your job. As a college student or recent grad, how you spend your summers in many ways can shape your career and its trajectory.
Types of Summer Jobs for College Students
There are many kinds of summer jobs available for college students. Keep in mind that some jobs have age restrictions or require a certain number of years of schooling. Nevertheless, jobs generally fall within the following categories:
- Seasonal: Seasonal jobs are paid jobs that last within one season, e.g. summer or winter. These types of jobs are often concentrated across a few key seasonal industries–like outdoors, adventure sports, retail, etc. Seasonal jobs often cater to a specific lifestyle–access to your favorite activities, in warm weather, etc. Vacation Resorts and National Parks are great examples of places that hire seasonally.
- Internships: Internships are entry training job positions, where the intern learns and gains skills in a desired area or industry. These tend to have a firm start and end date, with many providing full time offers upon successful internship period.
- Externships: Externships are like internships except that they are usually shorter in duration, and are often unpaid.
- Part-time: Part-time jobs are any jobs that require 20 hours or less of work per week. These jobs often work in shifts and are rotational. You may often see some overlap between seasonal and part-time jobs.
Planning the Summer Job Hunt
To get a job for the summer, you must begin planning before college summer break begins. Surprised? I hope not. The process of finding a job can take a bit of time–like all important things in life–planning it in advance helps a lot.
When to Start Your Summer Job Search
To understand when you need to start your job search, you should first know when you’re available to work. Usually, the summer holiday period varies from college to college. For example, colleges in the Northeast tend to start later and end later than Southern colleges.
That being said, the majority of summer job recruiters start looking for candidates between February and early March and finalize between late March and April. These are approximate periods, however. Every employer is different—some may start recruiting as early as January, and others may finalize recruitment as late as May.
Get Your Resume Ready
For many jobs, your resume is the key to getting that interview callback. In fact, when you apply for a job online, about 70% of companies use an applicant tracking system to screen job seekers, according to one IBM study.
This means there’s a greater chance that a software application is vetting your resume before it even gets into the hands of a recruiter. Refine the language on your resume to reflect the skills required for your desired job.
Use a Straightforward Email Address
As cute as cutiepie@gmail[dot]com may be, it’s just not professional. The best practice for emails is to use an email that displays your name like johnsmith@gmail[dot]com. A few numbers are OK as long as it’s not excessively long like johnsmith77777@gmail[dot]com.
Get Your Job References
Many companies will ask for references or senior individuals you’ve worked for in the past that can speak to your skills and work ethic. Ask someone you trust. Many times your job references is that final make or break that will help you secure your job.
If this is your first time applying for a job, and you don’t have references, not to worry. Ask your professor or teacher as a reference. If you volunteer or part of any extracurricular activities, your supervisors can be a reference, too.
Update Your Social Networks
According to one survey by Career Builder, more than 50% of employers are screening potential candidates’ social media as well.
If your social profiles are full of inappropriate jokes, it’s probably best to clean up your profiles to make sure they are recruiter-friendly.
When in doubt, treat your recruiters like close family. Is there anything on your social networks that you wouldn’t want to share with your parents or grandparents? Chances are that recruiters shouldn’t see that either.
Given this, make sure to do the following for all of your public social profiles:
- Make sure all information is current and up to date. Be honest!
- Doublecheck your account handle. Is it appropriate?
- Hide or Remove any images or text that may be offensive or inappropriate. Treat your recruiter like close family!
- Don’t erase your profile! Though this might seem an easy solution, this usually indicates to recruiters that you have something to hide
Nevertheless, you can use social media to benefit you. Social media helps to provide employers a more well-rounded image of who you are. And if you’re in looking for a lifestyle job—like in the seasonal job space for example—sharing pictures of you traveling and being outdoors is most definitely a good thing.
If you want to be extra safe, we’ve covered social media do’s and don’ts more thoroughly in our personal branding post.
Where to Look For Summer Jobs for College Students
Now that you have all of your documents and resumés ready to go, it’s now time to start looking for jobs! There are many ways to look for summer job opportunities, especially as a college student.
As a general rule of thumb, start your job search in places where you are as close to the recruiting source as possible. What does that mean? Focus on your job search where you know recruiters will definitely see your application. The bigger the pool of candidates, the harder it is for your application to rise to the top.
5 Ways to Find Summer Jobs
Here are the general places to start looking for jobs:
- Your College. Your college and even nearby universities are great places to start looking for summer job opportunities. Often times, your college will have dedicated student career portals, too. Plus, you’re most likely competing only with your fellow college students.
- Your Neighborhood. Your neighborhood or town is also a good place to start looking. If you live in a town with seasonal business e.g., theme parks or ski resorts, you’ll have a bigger pool of summer job opportunities. You may even be surprised by how many local employers still advertise jobs in the old school way: good ol‘ poster taped to a window.
- Your Network. According to one study, 70% of people found their current jobs through networking. Flex your network! Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities from those you know.
- General Job Sites. General job sites like Monster are also a good place to look. However, these bigger job sites are often redundant and may contain spam. You’re probably competing with a much bigger pool of candidates as well.
- Niche Job Sites. Niche job sites are growing in popularity among recruiters. Why? Niche job sites provide recruiters a smaller, more relevant pool of applicants. Therefore, niche job board sites are the fastest way to find strong candidates for recruiters. So if you want to work outdoor jobs and/or in places with immediate access to the things you love doing, e.g., white water rafting or hiking, then applying via PeakSeason may give you a leg up vs. applying for the same job on Monster.
Now It’s Time to Apply
By this point, all you have to do is fill out the forms! The application process is quite straightforward. All you need to do is create a list of jobs you want to apply for, and start plugging away!
Just remember, everything that you’ve prepared for thus far is so you can land that interview! This is the part where you let your personality shine. Follow these 5 interview tips, and you’ll be sure to land your dream job.
All in all, finding a summer job is not as hard as it sounds. All you need is take a bit of time and preparation, but it’s well worth the effort.